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What are you reading, music or otherwise?

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Showing 401-425 of 569 posts in this discussion
Posted on 24 Mar 2012 00:58:21 GMT
Mr. Austen Biss: Do not apologize for Philippa Gregory. My wife, who is the real nut in this family for the Tudor era, adores Ms. Gregory's work for exactly the reason you cite; but also because, though technically fiction, the historical footing is impeccable. My previous post mentions Alison Weir, who writes both fiction and non-, and she is very much comparable I gather.

Posted on 11 Apr 2012 22:53:02 BDT
Last edited by the author on 14 Apr 2012 22:17:29 BDT
Edgar Self says:
Jonathan Carr's little book on Mahler, with side-glances at Bruno Walter's personal memoir of him (including Ernst Krenek's essay ... he married Mahler's daughter), a pictorial biography, another book of reminiscences called "Mahler Remembered", edited by Norman Lebrecht; and Henry Louis De la Grange lurking in the background on its built-in fork-lift.

Posted on 17 Apr 2012 15:58:23 BDT
Jonathan Carr - Mahler, A Life - as recommended by Piso. Gripping read, onto the Hamburg years already though it only arrived this morning. The book rather races through the early life but paints a less grim picture of the Mahler household than Donald Mitchell.

Posted on 17 Apr 2012 17:11:37 BDT
Last edited by the author on 17 Apr 2012 17:12:07 BDT
Edgar Self says:
Delighted, Geoffrey! I'd hoped you would not be disappointed. You're already in advance of us by some pages. My own copy arrived yesterday; I can now return the library's and give someone else a crack.

Posted on 17 Apr 2012 22:45:31 BDT
Last edited by the author on 17 Apr 2012 22:48:52 BDT
Edgar Self says:
A curiosity I'd read about but never heard, Liszt's 1845 cantata to inaugurate the Beethoven monument at Bonn, for solo soprano, tenor, bass. chorus, and orchestra. There was nearly a riot at the premiere. Liszt conducted, starting his cantata more or less on time, but then stopped and started over from the beginning when the titled personages arrived late. It was a case of once already being a little too often.

:ive recording from 2001 by Bruno Weil, Capella Coloniensis, Koelner Kantorei, Diana Domrau, Joerg Duermiller, and Georg Zappenfeld. Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 2001 (BMG). The period instruments are especially welcome and effective in Beethoven's "Choral Fantasy" that follows, and Paul Komen's Hammerfluegel sounds great.

Liszt's cantata starts boldly with a strong brass fanfare, repeated several times. At the end, he paraphrases two-thirds of the slow movement of Beethoven's "Archduke" Trio, with words, tenor solo, and chorus, as an Andante Religioso. The notes mention a similar setting for tenor and male choir of the slow (variations) movement of the "Appassionata" sonata that I'd never heard of, but I knew the "Archduke" music was borrowed for a Protestant hymn that we sang in church. I'd love to have a similar arrangement of Schubert's second Moment Musicalefor solo tenor and men's voices. It could work beautifully; Schubert's music certainly sounds like a male choir to me..

The other work on the CD is Beethoven's "Choral Fantasy" of 1808, with improvisatoryintroductory fantasia well-played by aul Komen on Hammerfluegel, then variations on a melody similar, but not the same as, the "Ode to Joy" of the Ninth Symphony, but here set to different words, in a different key with metrical differences.

The books say the introductory piano fantasia is one of the best surviving examples of Beethoven's own improvisations, with his Fantasy in G-minor/B-flat, Op. 77, and the 32 Variations in C-minor WoO, his only chaconne. I'd add the cadenzas for his own and Mozart's concertos, and some passages in his sonatas.

Too late, I see this belongs on another thread, "What Are You Listening To". Luckily I mentioned reading something in the first line. Forgive me.

Posted on 18 Apr 2012 02:44:23 BDT
Mondo Ray says:
A stranger to these threads, but, any fans of Rutland Boughton/ Reginald Buckley out there? (First Glastonbury Festival, 1914)

Posted on 18 Apr 2012 09:35:12 BDT
Piso: Berlioz was present at the Beethoven clebration and gives an account in 'Evenings with the Orchestra'. After waiting an hour for the arrival of the royal party Liszt started without them; the performance was extremely poor. As soon as the work was over the royal party arrived and the work was repeated, in a much better performance. He doesn't mention the riot but puts down the poor first performance to jealousy and ill-will against Liszt. he only has complimentary things to say about the cantata itself.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Apr 2012 15:36:14 BDT
Last edited by the author on 20 Apr 2012 01:31:11 BDT
Edgar Self says:
I'd forgotten Berlioz's account, Geoffrey, if I ever knew it. Liszt's cantata isn't very impressive musically, and perhaps strives too hard to impress on other grounds. Liszt is seldom at his best in religioso mode. Berlioz criticising Liszt would be a treat.

Posted on 18 Apr 2012 16:14:58 BDT
Last edited by the author on 18 Apr 2012 16:15:21 BDT
Berlioz was always grateful for Liszt's advocacy of his works and never said a harsh word about him even after he defected to the Wagnerite camp. Berlioz had good reason to be bitter about Wagner but by and large kept silent about it.

Now as far as the Maiernigg chapter in the Carr/Mahler book. The atrocious Alma turns out to be even worse than I thought. I read her 'Memories and Letters' over 40 years ago and all I can remember from them is the altercation between Strauss and the formidable Pauline at the premiere of 'Feuersnot'; it now turns out to be fictitious, an invention of Alma's.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Apr 2012 20:14:55 BDT
Last edited by the author on 20 Apr 2012 20:16:44 BDT
Edgar Self says:
Geoffrey and I have been talking about Umberto Eco and somehow got onto the Domingo DVD thread.

I was mystified by "Foucault's Pendulum", despite having a gigantic example of it suspended from the inside roof of the Fermi Laboratory a few miles away several hundred feet high. On the mosaic floor it swings freely, knocking down peripheral pegs as the planet turns beneath it. It's all quite exotic with orchids growing around the atrium. I think of Hegel's law of the pendulum that a stranger once convincingly explained to me, although a Hegelian denies its existence.

I've noticed a surprising number of novels that strike me as half good, the first half that is. Harold Robbins's "The Carpetbaggers", Thornton Wilder's "The Eighth Day", one of William Styron's that I tried, and William Humphrey's "Set This House Afire". It's as if their writers knew how to start them but couldn't think how to end them. Hesse's "The Glass Bead Game (Magister Ludi)" is a superior example.

William Vollmann's "Europe Central is another curate's egg, with striking pages on the siege of Stalingrad, a defecting Soviet general, incomprehensible ones on Shostakovich, and quite a bit in between. I'm enough of a stick-in-the-mud to like stories with a beginning, middle, and end.

Umberto Eco's "The Name of the Rose" interested me, although I got lost in the labyrinths and strange library, a la Borges. The bit about Aristotle's lost book was a good touch. I recognised the borrowings from Conan Doyle, but not the ones from Voltaire until they were pointed out. Sean Connery's movie of it seems to have sunk without a trace, and nothing else by Eco save a few essays have interested me as much. Do you suppose he is another writer who is simply too clever for his own good?

Posted on 21 Apr 2012 10:23:27 BDT
Piso: There is a Foucault Pendulum in the Science Museum in London but apparently it is a bit of a swizz and kept going by electrical means. The Connery movie still surfaces on TV; I have it on video and I am sure it is still available on DVD. I think it is Connery's best movie. Eco was pleased with it but described it as a 'palimpsest' of the book. 'Foucault's Pendulum' definitely gives the impression that Eco is showing off with lots of long words; whether that is the saem as too clever for his own good I am not sure but I take your point. Before anyone posts the obvious, I am not against the use of long words, it's just that Eco overdoes it.

John Wyndham always struck me as a writer who knew how to start books but not how to finish them; they give the impression he reached a point where he got bored with his own novel and dashed off an ending in a couple of pages. He was popular in the 1950s and early 60s. Their was a dire BBC TV version of 'The Day of the Triffids' fairly recently but apart from that he seems to have 'sunk without a trace'.

Posted on 21 Apr 2012 15:21:31 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Apr 2012 18:10:47 BDT
Edgar Self says:
Umberto Eco's "The Name of the Rose" and his other books are a bit of a palimpsest themselves, Geoffrey, and must be peeled like onions, but I suppose it's a word that naturally occurs to a professor of semiotics (an area I'd never heard of). Sometimes I miss the big words. To be fair, some may be the choice of his translators, but I doubt it. Eco is said to work closely with them.

Portmanteau words and many that are articulated like trains naturally occur in languages like German; I don't know about Italian.

The Foucault pendulum near me at the Fermi Lab is free-hanging, -swinging, and self-propelled, although some nuclear wonk may have given it a shove to start it off when no-one was looking. Their accelerator whizzes around it, or did, but has taken a back-seat to Cern, which has its own problems. A friend from Fermi works also at Cern and says the scientific community there is quite divided about some of their purported discoveries and accomplishments. I see the retractions are starting, so perhaps the speed of light is absolute after all.

Tne notion that a modicum of black matter outweighs the Cosmos doesn't go down well, not to speak of black holes and pink dwarves. It may be anti-matter, but I'm instinctively a pro-matter man. I wonder how many Jesuits they're getting onto the head of a pin these days?

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Apr 2012 02:24:47 BDT
Last edited by the author on 22 Apr 2012 05:44:36 BDT
John Ruggeri says:
Moral Responsibility Situation Ethics at Work [Paperback] 1967 -Joseph Fletcher (Author)
This book is the sequel to Fletcher's controversial and landmark work Situation Ethics {1966}.
This is a second read for me of Moral Responsibility Situation Ethics at Work in which JF tries to assert that his philosohical belief that all ethics is situational and is in concordance with Christianity which he understands as LOVE - Agape. Fletcher IMO is a better philosoher as he takes what fits from the Bible
almost exclusively New Testament quotes re: Love. He mostly leaves the OT fallow and does not really address the more un-loving parts of NT eg. Punishment and vengence. But his conservative brethern play the same game with reverse Biblical casuistry

I met Fletcher at a religious conference at the Catholic University of America @ 1968. He was wise
and gentle and no doubt the most important philosphical and theological person I ever met.

Posted on 22 Apr 2012 15:55:26 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Apr 2012 18:06:49 BDT
Edgar Self says:
I don't know Fletcher or his book, John, but think curricula could profit by teaching ethics, which probably is taught today, if at all, only in Catholic schools. I'd add morals, but would be laughed off the Forum.

Philosophy teachers I've met recently seemed concerned only with quantifiable things I don't associate at all with philosophy, and made pained faces at my questions. It's still Epictetus and his "Discourses" for me.

Posted on 22 Apr 2012 17:24:02 BDT
Piso, if they laugh you off the forum for the closing sentence of your first para.they'll have to do the same to me.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Apr 2012 20:59:11 BDT
John Ruggeri says:

Do not dare be laughed off the Forum.


Posted on 5 May 2012 21:52:20 BDT
Edgar Self says:
Charles Timbrell's book "French Pianism", for a discussion on the forum that threatens to spin out of control. I have several filing systems for books and CDs, none of which works, and spent two days looking for this book. It eluded me through being right where it should have been.

I imagine many of us think of French pianism in association with the Casadesus family, Walter Gieseking, Jean-Philippe Collard, right down to Francois-Frederic Guy and the even younger David Fray. For me it's inextricable with Alfred Cortot, who has fascinated me for decades. I don't quite understand why, but I know there are very few pianists like him of any nationality.

Posted on 8 May 2012 16:32:55 BDT
Last edited by the author on 21 May 2012 00:59:48 BDT
Edgar Self says:
Hermann Kuerzke's "Thomas Mann: Life as a Work of Art", published 1999 in German, English translation Princeton U. press, 2002. I had somehow missed this book until an academic Mann scholar mentioned it. Perhaps a little more than we need to know about the author of "Doctor Faustus" and "The Magic Mountain", who played the violin and loved music, especially "Tristan". In other musical connexions, Mann was a close friend of Bruno Walter's, and had met Mahler and Pfitzner.

Posted on 25 May 2012 15:33:18 BDT
Last edited by the author on 29 May 2012 18:58:56 BDT
Edgar Self says:
"Notes of a Moscow Pianist" by Dmitry Paerno (1929- ), pianist and recording artist. Some of the best pages are about his teacher, Alexander Goldenweiser of Moscow Conservatory, who as a young man spent years with Tolstoy as musical secretary, chess-partner, and announced his death to the world from the railway station to which Tolstoy fled at age 80. Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, and Medtner dedicated works to Goldenweiser, who premiered them and recorded some. His piano trio in memory of Rachmaninoff is very fine, in the Russian tradition of such works. He recorded it with Leonid Kogan and Rostropovich in the last year of his life (1875-1961).

I've pulled out Goldenweiser's recordings of Catoire's piano trio, and sonatas with Oistrakh; Chopin, Scriabin, Tchaikovsky, Arensky, Borodin, and works of his own to hear. His Tchaikovsky "Meditation" is as imipressive as Richter's. The sound is tolerable for 1947-1955, occasionally blasting in loud spots, but his own trio is entirely in order, from 1961, on Revelation with Catoire's trio.

Paperno's chapter on the Chopin Competition of 1955 with Ashkenazy, Ringeisen, Fou Ts'ong, and Adam Harasiewicz, with Michelangeli among the jurors, is very amusing. Paperno and Ashkenazy were room-mates.

Posted on 29 May 2012 17:24:35 BDT
Storied Stadiums

Curt Smith's anecdotal and statistical stroll through nearly all of of major league baseball's parks from the late 19th century until the (near) present. Had a little difficulty in getting my head around the author's quirky, clipped style of narrative (but then he was a speech writer for George Bush's administration) but with a bit of perseverance it's a rewarding read.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 May 2012 21:16:48 BDT
John Ruggeri says:
Beethoven [Paperback] - Maynard Solomon (Author)

Chock full of facts but a slow read as I think the author's writing skills are too turgid.

Posted on 29 May 2012 22:20:43 BDT
Edgar Self says:
One of the best books on Beethoven is by the Irish mathematician J. W. N. Sullivan, who may not have been either a mathematician nor Irish. It's called "Beethoven: His Spiritual Development", published in the centenary year of 1927, freely available in paperback or libraries, and greatly admired by professional musicians and even rarer, by other writers about music in general and on Beethoven in particular.

No-one should be deterred by its title. There are perceptive pages on the quartets and sonatas especially, and on the necessity for suffering. Ernest Newman (not his real name either) wrote a moving foreword. Sullivan's writing is clear and comprehensible, as good as Tovey's without the jokes.

Posted on 1 Jun 2012 03:50:56 BDT
Last edited by the author on 1 Jun 2012 15:23:40 BDT
Edgar Self says:
Peter Gay's brief life of Mozart, Penguih, 1999. A bit of a disappointment, necessarily compressed to 177 pp. including notes and bibliography, no index, no discography,. which would have been another 177 pp. But Gay is much fonder of scatological passages in the letters than I am, and he's not a musician, but an emeritus history professor at Yale University who has written on the Enlightenment and a biography of Freud, which shows. He's a little tiresome on the father-son conflictt of Mozart with Leopold.

Now I'd like to read a more scholarly life written by a musician, preferably English. But my friend enjoyed it very much, with some reservations ("too much opera").

Posted on 1 Jun 2012 09:34:10 BDT
Piso: I am sure you will have already read Einstein and Hildesheimer. Apart from a short book on Mozart's last year by H.C. Robbins Landon my other books on Mozart are about about his operas. I am sure there must be a good biography out there somewhere.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Jun 2012 15:21:33 BDT
Edgar Self says:
Thanks, Geoffrey. I have Hildesheimer's biograpphy of Mozart and have at least leafed through Einstein's long ago. Mrcia Davenport's is old-fashioned and sentimental. I'll keep scouting about and will give a shout if anything promising turns up. I can't remember Robbins-Landon's at the moment.
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